Tips for Keeping Your Plants Alive During A Cold Snap

The late snow has left, less than twenty-four hours later we have a garden full of puddles and soil polished to a slick-slop mark on the ground. That is the problem with snow, it is always how it melts that will effect your long term soil problems and plants. This kind of melt washes away the top soil and though it's a joy for cartoon pigs to jump in, it is another problem on our hillside. The photo below shows one of the shallower puddles, Andrew is not staring at his reflection, this is not gardening narcissism. We have those in the borders instead.

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We have had heaters on in the glasshouse, combating the dropping temperatures, we dipped to -3 celisius (26.6 fahrenheit) the other night, and it was a mad scramble into the shed for any paraffin we had left. We have rolled out the fleece, stayed our hand at watering - this another reason why you should only water in the morning - for fear of the compost freezing at night. So, Andrew trudged up the hill, and recorded his journey and discovery beneath the fleece.

The evidence that there is life after the snow, just to prove that even on radio we don't make things up for the gardening audience or replace the lot with brought in plants, here is our chilli and dahlia plants underneath the fleece, holding their own.

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Late frost is always a concern in any garden but more so when you have sown seed under cover and potted them on into young plants. Here are some tips to help you keep the plants going:

1) Consider creating a heat sump/passive thermal store and make sure any fresh seedlings and plants are placed near it.
2) Water in the morning and not late afternoon. Water taken up by a plant in the morning will end up in the foliage but at the sun dips down below the horizon, any water left in the compost in the pot, could freeze, killing any roots and your plant.
3) Get some heat. We use a paraffin heater but if you can run electricity to your greenhouse then you can invest in something a bit more expensive and controllable.
4) Insulate your greenhouse, bubble wrap and some clear silicon will do wonders. Plug up those gaps with the silicon. You normally find gaps at the gable ends in the corners where glass meets frame, roof meets sides. Then get some greenhouse bubble wrap clips to create a greenhouse within a greenhouse with the bubble wrap. If you have a large greenhouse you don't have to do all of it, you can cordon off an area at the end, just make sure to add some bubble wrap curtains to seal in the heat.
5) Get some polystyrene. Polystyrene in a coldframe, in the greenhouse, will keep any plants warm. It's a great insulator and if you can find polystyrene boxes, they are great for keeping young seedlings and plants alive.
6) Look at the weather report. Don't sow when you know the weather is going to be bad, sometimes you just have to wait and not follow the advice on the seed packet.
7) Get some fleece, fleece isn't just for outside beds but works wonders undercover too. If there's a frost coming or you know night time temperatures are closer to 0 celsius (32 fahrenheit) then cover over those plants. We use a simple tent like system with plant labels or short canes to make sure the fleece doesn't touch the plants. This locks heat around the plants and we literally tuck the plants in by tucking the fleece under the pots on the edges of the staging.

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These are only a few tips, and if you have any, please do share in the comments below or on our Facebook page


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